A Pet Trust helps you legally choose a caretaker for your pet if you pass. Pets can't actually be the beneficiaries or trusts themselves; but you can certainly designate caretakers, monthly allowances for pet care, and what to do with the trust when your pet passes. A Pet Trust helps you get started with on estate planning for your pet.
Taking care of a pet is rewarding, but it can also be expensive. Having a Pet Trust in place can help you eliminate a lot of the costs of pet care for the person you're designating as the caretaker. There's a lot more to planning ahead than memorial arrangements, don't forget about doing your estate planning for pets. You want to make sure they have the same life that they had with you. A trust allows you to choose a caregiver who will carry out your wishes, designate funds to so that the caregiver has appropriate support, and allows you to specify where the remain funds should go after your pet passes away. Everything is up to you, but you have to get it in writing. A Pet Trust Form helps take care of your loyal companions for the rest of their lives.
When to use a Pet Trust:
You want to make sure your pets are cared for after you pass.
You'd like to designate a pet caregiver.
You want to set aside funds for pet care.
You need to designate where remaining funds will go after your pet passes.
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Sample Pet Trust
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This Pet Trust Agreement (this "Agreement"), dated , between (the "Settlor") of , and
This Agreement amends and restates the , and shall continue to be known as the "."
In consideration of the mutual covenants and promises set forth in this Agreement, the Settlor and the Trustee agree as follows:
. PURPOSE. The purpose of this Agreement is to establish a Trust to receive and manage assets for the benefit of the Settlor's living pets during the Settlor's lifetime and to further manage and distribute the assets of the Trust upon the death of the Settlor.
The pets or domestic animals currently living and intended to benefit from this trust include:
My , , more specifically identified as follows: .
Any references herein to "my Pet(s)" or "pets" shall be deemed to refer to the animals named herein as well as any of my pet's offspring in gestation at the time of my disability or death.
. FUNDING OF TRUST. Upon my death or disability, I give the sum of to the Trustee to be held in this Pet Trust. This amount is specific and in addition to any additional funds which may be left to the Trust. This Trust be funded with assets transferred to this Trust by the Settlor at the time of creating this Trust, or at any later time. During the lifetime of the Settlor, any interest in community property transferred into or out of this Trust shall retain its original character and such property shall not be commingled. This Trust may also receive property from any person or entity who is acting under the authority granted to that person or entity by the Settlor. It is also expected that this Trust may receive assets pursuant to the terms of the Settlor's Last Will and Testament.
. MANAGEMENT OF TRUST ASSETS. The Trustee shall manage and distribute the Trust assets for the benefit of the Settlor's pets in accordance with the terms of this Agreement.
. PET CARE DURING THE SETTLOR'S LIFETIME. During any period that the Settlor has a disability (as defined below), or cannot care for the Settlor's pets, the provisions of this Pet Trust shall become effective immediately to provide for the Settlor's pets, as if the Settlor had died. The Settlor may recover possession of the pets at any time.
Disability Defined. For the purposes of this Trust, "disability" shall mean a legal disability or the inability to provide prompt and intelligent consideration to financial matters by reason of illness or mental or physical disability. The determination of whether the Settlor has a disability shall be made by the Settlor's most recent attending physician. The Trustee shall be entitled to rely on written notice of that determination.
. PET CARE. Upon the death of the Settlor, and after the payment of the Settlor's just debts, funeral expenses, and expenses of last illness, the following distributions shall be made:
A. Caretaker. I give my Pets as described below, and any other pets that I own at my death, to of , , (the "Caretaker") if (s)he survives me by thirty (30) days. If shall fail to survive me or is otherwise unable to accept the guardianship of the above named pets or any other pets, I give such pets to , presently residing at , , . If neither of the caretakers named above are able or willing to accept my pets, During the time in which a suitable home cannot be found, such pets shall be placed in a professional animal care facility, the expenses of which shall be charged against the principal of any funds placed in this Pet Trust.
B. Caretaker Responsibilities. Caretaker shall have the following responsibilities:
i. Environment. It is my expectation that my pets be placed in a loving, caring, pet friendly home where my pets will be treated as part of the family. I desire for my pets to have all the basic necessities they are accustomed to. My pets should not be subjected to any environment where they might be neglected, harmed or mistreated. My pets should have a minimum of hours of human contact and interaction daily and should not be left unattended for more than hours.
ii. Diet. My Caretaker shall continue to provide my pets with the same or comparable quality food and nutrition as they are currently accustomed.
iii. Exercise. My Caretaker shall be responsible for ensuring my pets receive consistent exercise to manage their health and overall quality of life.
iv. Veterinary Care. My Caretaker shall have full authority, control and responsibility of scheduling and ensuring proper veterinary care and treatment for my Pets. My Caretaker will be required to have my pets seen by a licensed veterinarian at least once a year where the veterinarian will evaluate the health and welfare of my pets and verify the pet's identity. The Caretaker shall request the veterinarian prepare a report for my Trustee with the results of this evaluation. Should the veterinarian's report present cause for concern, my Trustee has full power and authority to remove my Pet(s) from the Caretaker and place them with one of the named alternates.
v. Grooming. My Caretakers shall maintain regular grooming appointments for my Pet(s). This shall include at a minimum regular baths, nail trimming, and haircuts/shaving.
vi. Medication/Treatment. My Caretaker shall be responsible for ensuring my Pet(s) receive all prescribed medication and medical or therapeutic treatment recommended by the Pet's veterinarian.
vii. End of Life. My Caretaker shall have the authority to make a recommendation to my Trustee to euthanize my Pet due to medical or physical condition or illness upon the recommendation of the Pet's veterinarian due to incurable health issues which make continuing life only sufferable for the Pet. My Trustee shall verify and consult with my Pet's veterinarian and give final approval to euthanize. If a decision is made to euthanize or when my Pet dies naturally I direct that its body be . My Trustee must be notified once any decision is made to euthanize my Pet.
. TRUST USE AND DISTRIBUTION. The primary purpose of this Pet Trust (referred to as "this Pet Trust") is to provide for the health, support, maintenance, and care of my Pets, as identified in this Pet Trust.
The provisions of this Pet Trust also provide for the distribution of the Settlor's residuary Trust assets. If the Trustee of this Pet Trust is the beneficiary of any life insurance policy on the Settlor's life, any pension plan or any other contract, the proceeds of such policy, plan or contract shall be treated by the Trustee as though received as a part of this Trust.
A.Use and Distribution.
All distributions made from this Pet Trust, excluding any Caretaker Allowance which may be authorized by this Pet Trust, shall be used exclusively for the benefit of my Pets health, maintenance, care and wellbeing. Specifically, but not limited to, covering any expenses incurred by the Caretaker while fulfilling the responsibilities outlined in Caretaker Responsibilities described herein
B.Caretaker Allowance. In addition to the payments above, the Caretaker shall receive for the Caretaker's personal use as payment for maintaining my Pet's health, care and welfare.
C.Trustee's Responsibilities. Without in any way limiting the discretion of my Trustee over distributions of principal and income from this Pet Trust, I declare to my Trustee that the primary purpose of this trust is to provide a warm, caring and loving environment for my pets for the remainder of their lives, including good nutrition and veterinarian care and attention. It is my intent that my pets should live out their natural lifespan and I direct my Trustee to take reasonable actions to accomplish it. Preservation of principal is not as important as these objectives. My Trustee is also authorized to pay, or reimburse to my Trustee, any income taxes attributable to the Trust and other necessary expenses associated with the administration and distribution thereof. Notwithstanding the above purposes, if at any time my pets suffer from a medical or physical condition or illness and my trustee determines, based on a written opinion of a veterinary professional who has examined any of my pets, that it would be more humane to euthanize any of my pets, then my Trustee is authorized to do so at the expense of the Pet Trust.
D.Final Distribution. This Trust shall terminate upon the earlier to occur of the following events: the last to die of my pets living at the time of my death, or if required by state law, twenty-one (21) years from the date of my death. If termination of the Trust occurs because of the last to die of my pets, my Trustee shall, at the expense of the Trust, provide for the respectful and proper disposition of the remains of the pets named above or any other pets, pay all remaining debts and expense of the Trust, and then distribute the remaining assets of the Trust to , ,
of , , .
E. Enforcement of the Trust by Third Party. The purposes and terms of this Pet Trust may be enforced, at any time with or without court intervention by , or if is unable or unwilling to do so, by any party appointed by a court pursuant to state laws. To this end, may, but is not required to request an accounting for the funds of the Pet Trust, not more frequently than quarterly, and inspect the pets named above and any other pets and the condition of the premises where the pets named above and any other pets are kept, from time to time, and ensure that appropriate care is being provided by my Pet Caretaker. This provision shall apply even if the party granted enforcement power is not a beneficiary of the Pet Trust. Notwithstanding the foregoing, no provision in this paragraph shall be construed to limit the rights of my trustee and the beneficiaries to enforce the terms hereof.
. TRUSTEE POWERS. The Trustee, in addition to other powers and authority granted by law or necessary or appropriate for proper administration of the Trust, shall have the following rights, powers, and authority without order of court and without notice to anyone:
. Receive Assets. To receive, hold, maintain, administer, collect, invest and re-invest the trust assets, and collect and apply the income, profits, and principal of the Trust in accordance with the terms of this instrument.
. Receive Additional Assets. To receive additional assets from other sources, including assets received under the Will of the Settlor or any other person.
. Standard of Care. To acquire, invest, reinvest, exchange, retain, sell, and manage estate and trust assets, exercising the judgment and care, under the circumstances then prevailing, that persons of prudence, discretion and intelligence exercise in the management of their own affairs, not in regard to speculation but in regard to the permanent disposition of their funds, considering the probable income as well as the probable safety of their capital. Within the limitations of that standard, the Trustee is authorized to acquire and retain every kind of property, real, personal or mixed, and every kind of investment, specifically including, but not by way of limitation, bonds, debentures and other corporate obligations, and stocks, preferred or common, that persons of prudence, discretion and intelligence acquire or retain for their own account, even though not otherwise a legal investment for trust funds under the laws and statutes of the United States or the state under which this instrument is administered.
. Retain Assets. To retain any asset, including uninvested cash or original investments, regardless of whether it is of the kind authorized by this instrument for investment and whether it leaves a disproportionately large part of the estate or trust invested in one type of property, for as long as the Trustee deems advisable.
. Dispose of or Encumber Assets. To sell, option, mortgage, pledge, lease or convey real or personal property, publicly or privately, upon such terms and conditions as may appear to be proper, and to execute all instruments necessary to effect such authority.
. Settle Claims. To compromise, settle, or abandon claims in favor of or against the Trust.
. Manage Property. To manage real estate and personal property, borrow money, exercise options, buy insurance, and register securities as may appear to be proper.
. Allocate Between Principal and Income. To make allocations of charges and credits as between principal and income as in the sole discretion of the Trustee may appear to be proper.
. Employ Professional Assistance. To employ and compensate counsel and other persons deemed necessary for proper administration and to delegate authority when such delegation is advantageous to the trust.
. Distribute Property. To make division or distribution in money or kind, or partly in either including disproportionate in-kind distributions, at values to be determined by the Trustee, and the Trustee's judgment shall be binding upon all interested parties.
. Enter Contracts. To bind the Trust by contracts or agreements without assuming individual liability for such contracts.
. Exercise Stock Ownership Rights. To vote, execute proxies to vote, join in or oppose any plans for reorganization, and exercise any other rights incident to the ownership of any stocks, bonds or other properties of the Trust.
. Duration of Powers. To continue to exercise the powers provided in this Agreement after the termination of the Trust until all the assets of the Trust have been distributed.
. ADDITIONAL TRUSTEE PROVISIONS. These additional provisions shall apply regarding the Trustee.
A. Settlor as Trustee. If at any time the Settlor is the Trustee, the Settlor may appoint a successor Trustee, to become effective immediately or upon any stated contingency, by making such designation in writing. Such designee shall become the successor Trustee upon acceptance of the terms and conditions of this Agreement.
B. Successor Trustee. with bond. with bond. with bond. with bond. Such designee(s) shall become the successor Trustee(s) upon acceptance of the terms and conditions of this Agreement.
C. Resignation of Trustee. Any Trustee may resign by giving written notice to the beneficiaries to whom income could then be distributed. Such resignation shall take effect on such date specified in the notice, but not earlier than thirty (30) days after the date of delivery of such written resignation unless an earlier effective date shall be agreed to by the income beneficiaries.
D. Adult Beneficiary Rights. If the Trustee resigns or for any reason ceases to serve as Trustee, and if the successor Trustee(s) designated by the Settlor, if any, fail or cease to serve as Trustee, then a successor Trustee shall be appointed by the court having general jurisdiction of the Trust. Any successor Trustee appointed shall have all the rights conferred upon the original Trustee and shall be bound by the provisions of this Trust.
E. Accounting. The Trustee shall provide an accounting to the Pet Caretaker and the Third Party Enforcer of this Trust on at least a basis.
. REVOCATION OR AMENDMENT. During the Settlor's lifetime, the Settlor may revoke at any time, and/or the Settlor may amend, this Agreement by delivering to the Trustee an appropriate written revocation or amendment, signed by the Settlor. If the Trustee consents, the powers of revocation, but not the power of amendment, may be exercised by a duly appointed and acting attorney-in-fact for the Settlor for the purpose of withdrawing assets from the Trust.
. GOVERNING LAW. This Agreement shall be construed in accordance with the laws of the State of .
. PERPETUITIES SAVINGS CLAUSE. Despite any other provision of this Agreement to the contrary, the trust created by this Agreement shall terminate no later than 21 years after the death of the last surviving beneficiary of this Agreement who is living at the time of the death of the Settlor.
. SEVERABILITY. If any portion of this Agreement shall be held to be invalid or unenforceable for any reason, the remaining provisions shall continue to be valid and enforceable. If a court finds that any provision of this Agreement is invalid or unenforceable, but that by limiting such provision it would become valid and enforceable, then such provision shall be deemed to be written, construed, and enforced as so limited.
. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS.
. Paragraph Titles and Gender. The titles given to the paragraphs of this Trust are inserted for reference purposes only and are not to be considered as forming a part of this Trust in interpreting its provisions. All words used in this Trust in any gender shall extend to and include all genders, and any singular words shall include the plural expression, and vice versa, specifically including "child" and "children," when the context or facts so require, and any pronouns shall be taken to refer to the person or persons intended regardless of gender or number.
The Settlor is married to and all references in this Trust to "the Settlor's spouse" are references to .
. Children.However, all references in this Trust to "the Settlor's child" or "Settlor's children" include any children born to or adopted by the Settlor after the signing of this Trust.
All references in this Trust to "the Settlor's child" or "the Settlor's children" include the above child or children.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
On this _____ day of ____________________, ______, before me, ________________________________, personally appeared , known to me (or satisfactorily proven) to be the person whose name is subscribed to the within instrument and acknowledged that he/she executed the same as Settlor for the purposes therein contained.
In witness whereof I hereunto set my hand and official seal.
Title (and Rank)
My commission expires ________________
, by , a trustee who is personally known to me or who has produced ______________________________ (type of identification) as identification, It is recommended (and may be required if real property is included among the trust assets) that these signatures be notarized; however unlike a will, no witnesses are necessary. In Florida, a Pet Trust must be signed with the same formalities required for the signing of a will.
The Pet Trust should be signed by in the presence of three DISINTERESTED adult witnesses and a notary public. The signature of a third witness provides some protection against the possibility that one of the witness' signature will be invalid for some reason. For example, a person should not be a witness if that person is a beneficiary under the Pet Trust.
All of the witnesses must watch sign this Pet Trust. should verbally declare that the document is intended to be his or her Pet Trust, but the witnesses need not read the Pet Trust or know of its contents.
Each witness must sign his or her name with and the other witnesses present. The witnesses should be satisfied that willingly signed the document as a free and voluntary act, and that was of full age and sound mind.
The Pet Trust is not valid unless it is signed by a Settlor who is of "sound mind" and of the minimum age for this state. In Florida, the minimum age is eighteen. Being of "sound mind" requires that the Settlor: (a) know that he or she is signing a Pet Trust, (b) know the general nature and extent of his or her property, and (c) know the descendants or other relatives that would ordinarily be expected to share in the estate.
The Florida Self-Proving Affidavit is a document which should be attached to the end of the Pet Trust, and which contains 's acknowledgment and the affidavit of the witnesses, made before a person authorized to take acknowledgments and administer oaths. The affidavit recites that the requisite formalities were observed in signing the Pet Trust. Although attaching the affidavit has nothing to do with the legality of the Pet Trust itself, it can speed the admission of the Pet Trust to probate (if necessary) after the Settlor's death because it eliminates the need to have a witness appear at the probate proceeding to testify that the formalities in signing the Pet Trust were followed. The witnesses may not be available later when they are needed. A self-proved Pet Trust may be admitted to probate without additional witnesses or affidavits, but it is still subject to contest on such grounds as undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity, or prior revocation.
When to Consult a Lawyer
If is unable to sign due to physical disability, another person may be able to sign on behalf of , in 's presence, and at the express direction of . However, this document does not provide the necessary language for another person to sign for the Settlor. For assistance with this procedure, a lawyer should be contacted.
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